We have been waiting for the final results of the first round of the elections for two days now. Such a discredit not only causes controversy but also gives rise to accusations of incompetency, to say the least, against the National Election Commission. What caused this situation?
What is the origin of the problems?
First, let us look at the facts and put emotions aside. We are far from concluding that this situation it similar to the Belarusian model, in which it takes 5 days to know the results, or that it would be faster to count the votes manually. In November 2013, the National Election Commission announced the tender for the Election Platform 2.0. The tender was which was cancelled due to violation of 11 Articles of the Public Procurement Law. As a result, the National Appeal Chamber ordered that the entire specification of essential terms of the contract, a document that explicitly sets out the tender specification, be changed. The National Election Commission, with the limited time left (in 2014 there were two election procedures) decided to announce a number of smaller tenders.
The pressure of selecting a supplier
The tender for the “Design and performance of Internet websites for the voting and the election results, including its managing and administration” won a little-known information technology company, Nabino, with no previous implementations in its record that would be comparable to the Election Platform.
The company won the tender because it was … the sole tenderer. Why was it the sole tenderer? Because there was no other company willing to implement the project within 3 months (the project covered the concept, development, configuration and tests). The risk related to the lack of experience was magnified by the aspect of the scarce time for performing the contract.
Weak justification of the National Election Commission
From today’s perspective, I am under the impression that the National Election Commission has no real arguments to justify its behaviour when it is claiming that the fault was on the public procurement law, limited financial resources of the Commission or the supplier. Apart from the two latter aspects, we may say what should have been done under the Public Procurement Law. In my opinion, there were two solutions to the problem. First, there was the possibility to comply with the National Appeal Chamber’s decision, change the specifications and announce a new tender. Second, after the decision to conduct smaller tenders was made, there should have been determined firm rules relating to the experience of economic operators. In addition, the contracting authority should have avoided the pressure of a short time to find a supplier and the risk of no tenderers, and next should have started discussions with only one company under a single source procurement. In this way, it would have been possible, in compliance with the Law, to minimise the risk of selecting a supplier that did not have the potential to guarantee a proper performance of the contract.
However, a different path was chosen. Now, we can only patiently wait for the election results to be announced.